Area – Arbeit Macht Frei (1973)

Area_ArbeitMachtFrei4 out of 5 Stars!

From Italy, Area played Prog-Rock that often dove into Avant-Garde territory, almost like a heavier version of Canterbury-style Prog, with highly dramatic vocals.

On Arbeit Macht Frei, the jazzier aspects of the band (those appearing on the title track, “240 Chilometri Da Smirne,” and “Consapevolezza,” where wild, jamming sax, numerous tempo shifts, and creative synth, guitar, and bass riffs keep things really popping) occasionally remind me of Zappa’s Hot Rats period, whereas other tracks (such as “L’abbattimento Dello Zeppelin,” “Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (Nero),” and “Le Labbra Del Tempo”) seem to take those same jazz aspects and merge them with a few Gentle Giant, King Crimson, or PFM influences and add a healthy dose of adrenaline to the mix, making for some wackier Prog and, therefore, creating a unique style for the band.

Although I’m unfamiliar with the majority of Area’s output from the latter half of the ’70s, and the band’s periodic releases afterward, the debut Arbeit Macht Frei (and the follow-up release Caution Radiation Area) are treks along fairly strange and imaginative pathways, and would likely appeal to lovers of offbeat music who enjoy a massive injection of free-form Jazz mixed with their Prog-Rock.

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